Editing and proofreading

Often clients ask me if I have translations “proofread” by a second linguist.

In fact, they mean “edited” which involves comparing the source and target texts step by step to ensure that the original has been correctly understood by the translator and to check that there have been no omissions or copy-paste errors for numbers and proper nouns. Editing also involves the correction of writing, grammar and terminology. The editor will also standardise style and glossary for large projects which have required several translators. It is therefore a task which must be entrusted to a translator with the same level of skill and who works in the same languages as the translator(s) who first worked on the translation. This service costs on average 50% of the translation rate (if the translation costs 10, editing will cost 5, for a total production cost of 15).

Proofreading, however, simply involves quickly reading through the translated text to correct the most visible style and grammar errors. Comparison with the source text is only carried out to ensure nothing has been omitted, or when the translated text is incomprehensible. This work is often done within an agency by a project manager (not necessarily a linguist) whose native language is the same as the target language but who does not necessarily have a perfect understanding of the source language (it goes without saying that the agency nevertheless charges the client an “editing” rate). If this task is entrusted to a linguist, he or she will charge up to 20% of their translation rate. Proofreading can also be entrusted to someone who is very competent in the field covered by the text (for example, a surgeon if the text describes new surgical instruments). This person will have precise knowledge of the terms and turns of phrase used in documents written for professionals in the sector, even if he or she does not speak the source language (if the specialist has any questions, he or she is put in direct contact with the translator who can explain what was translated and how). In this case, the rate is as high as – if not higher than – the editing rate.

You can also ask request a ‘Super Deluxe’ service: translation + editing by a second linguist + proofreading by a technician/expert. I dream of one day having such a demanding customer!